The scholarly journal of literature Two Centuries of the Russian Classics was established by A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2019. It is the Research Center "Russian Literature and Christian Tradition" of the IWL RAS that is engaged in selection of the articles, and their preparation to publication.
Russian literature of the 18th and 19th centuries is a national treasure of the state. However, numerous unread pages remain to this day. Presenting this “terra incognita” in an authentic historical form and in accordance with the era of particular literary monument’s creation is one of the primary tasks of the journal Two Centuries of the Russian Classics.
Today, Russian classics is rediscovered. The historical retrospective greatly helps to realise the lasting value of the literary masterpieces created in the bosom of Russian traditional culture. All of them have a common origin – the idea of exacting anyone to itself, of self-improvement; “so that people, – as it is written in Leo Tolstoy's address ‘To Political Figures’, would be morally improved in order to being able to value more the awareness of their purity from the sin of violence than their selfish material well-being”. The answers to the acute, topical questions of our day are already given by the classic writers. Modern person should learn to see their embodiment in the artistic images of Russian literature.
The main branches of literary science include literary theory, literary history and literary criticism and they are all closely interlinked in the pages of the journal.
The journal publishes voluminous conceptual works that would reveal the peculiarities of the creative work and worldview of Russian classical writers, the specificity of the realisation of key philosophical and life problems in their artistic worlds, the depth and uniqueness of the writers' religious consciousness, their spiritual and creative quests. Current historical and literary and theoretical scientific articles, which not only supplement, but often also correct the views well-established in Soviet literary criticism, are offered to readers, taking into account the latest discoveries and achievements of philological science.
The aim of the journal is to present a large-scale panorama of the literary process in Russia of the 18th and 19th centuries in a lively dynamics, illustrated by little-known documents and facts. This aim is largely fulfilled by the broad problematic range of scholarly publications in the journal Two Centuries of the Russian Classics.
The rich genre palette of material and the stylistic diversity of sources and documents provide insight into the cultural environment against which artistic masterpieces were created and their creative history shaped. The results of the study of journalism, memoirs, epistolary and other literary sources from the funds of Russian and foreign archives are published in the periodical, which contributes not only to a significant update of the factual basis of the history of Russian classical literature, but also to objective assessment of historical evolution; the quality of modern historical consciousness is thus influenced. Moreover, Russian spiritual literature of the 18th–19th centuries, having fully asserted itself as a phenomenon of Russian literature, has not become the subject of as thorough scientific study as secular one, although it is the former that clearly reflected the main trends in the historical and literary process of the era, its spiritual orientation and axiological meanings. What is included in the periodical's objectives is comprehensive study of secular and spiritual literature; successful ventures in this direction are undertaken by the journal, and that confirms spiritual literature has not lost its topicality over the centuries; moreover, it has gained a value obvious to modern human and it represents a key to understanding global socio-historical processes.
Publication of archival material is one of the journal's priorities, which continues the tradition of the of the IWL RAS textual studies scientific school. Attention to the creative history of works of Russian classics, to the history of their text contributes to a deep study of the creative task of the particular writer – its formation and the possibility of implementation in specific conditions of that era. A detailed textual analysis of this or that work of fiction, which confirms the immutable unity of content and form of such literary monument, makes it possible to make sure that all aspects of the poetics of the text are subordinated to the overall ideological and aesthetic task set by the author.
The editorial board devotes a great deal of attention to articles on textology and source studies which examine both creative histories as a whole and their individual stages, namely the artists' initial ideas, their quests, successes and failures in working on language, style, imagery and composition. Important issues such as dating, attribution and localisation are equally included in the sphere of textual investigations. As a source of a wide range of information, each text, in turn, needs accurate attribution of authorship, time and place of creation to ensure the reliability of its systematic study.
Russian classical literature rightly occupies one of the places of honour in the world literary space as a unique cultural phenomenon. Its originality and depth are evident in the interrelations and mutual influences with European literatures – French, German, English and Italian. These relationships were formed in different ways throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, however the ideas and meanings characteristic of Russian literature have always been distinguished by their spirituality and humanistic ideals. The articles on interliterary relations and the national originality of Russian classics are published in the journal, basing, like other publications, on new materials and documents introduced into scholarly circulation for the first time and presenting national Russian heritage in a reliable, undistorted form and in the fullness of contemporary academic knowledge.
A special section of the journal is devoted to scientific events – conferences, seminars, new publications, forward-looking work plans of the Research Center "Russian Literature and Christian Tradition" of the IWL RAS.